It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when camping went from a minimalistic experience in nature to a full blown luxury getaway with all the trappings that modern civilization can create. But in many cases it has. The idea of camping has evolved to the point where it is often times more work just to get ready to go then it is to actually ‘be out there’. Here we will discuss some tips to keeping the camping experience simple, and at the same time comfortable without going over board and packing the perverbial “kitchen sink”.
First of all, I am not saying that camping has to be a painfull, uncomfortable ordeal. Rather, I am saying that it can be significantly simpler than most of us are currently used to. Ask yourself if you are more tired after loading up the car or after having hiked, fished, or explored all day at your intended location. If the answere is the former, then this article is for you. Here are some tips to help you KEEP IT SIMPLE.
Planning: Even a small amount of planning can go a long way to making a simpler camping trip. Start by deciding what (if any) activities you will be doing while out there. If it is going to be hiking, then bring the binnoculars, good boots, and camera. But leave the volleyball net at home. If there is going to be some fishing then try to figure out what fish you are after and bring that equipment, but not every single piece of tackle you own.
When it comes to food, planning is huge. Many of us will empty the refrigerator into 2 or 3 ice chests just in case we meet a hungry division of army soldiers (you just never know). I don’t know about you, but I have found that nine out of ten times I come home with almost half of the food that I so urgently packed just a few days before. And unforunately most of this goes straight into the trash because it has gone bad. Not only is this wastefull, it means I had not only pack it up, but unpack it too. This is due largely to back planning. Take about 1/2 hour prior to your trip and actually plan each meal (or at least breakfasts and dinners). Take into consideration how many people you are feeding and whether or not leftovers can be used for later meals. Then only pack what is nessecary. Snacks are OK, but this is a category that we generally tend to overpack. Pick a few favorite items and leave the rest. Some fresh fruit is fine, but too much will likely just go bad before you can eat it.
Gear Packing: When I was growing up in Alaska, my Dad had the gear thing figured out. He could take my mother, brother and I on a 3 day trek into the wilds (and up there the wilds are really wild) with nothing more than what could be packed into to large backpacks. We never went hungry and he always had the tool he needed to complete camping tasks. Be honest with yourself. How many times have you squeezed in that brand new gadget that looked cool in the camping catalog only to return home with it still in the packaging? You simply didn’t need the combo knife, tire repair, tape measure, toilet paper dispenser thing-a-ma-jig as much as you thought you did. Again, some planning will help, but more importantly recalling what was and wasn’t used on prior trips should help even more.
Space: The amount of room in your vehicle or RV should serve as a guideline for the stuff that you may or may not take with you. If you find yourself stacking things everywhere and then wondering where to put the pets and kids, then you are already in trouble and probably don’t need all of it. If you find yourself out of room and still wanting to take something with you, then negotiate with yourself. What can you take out to allow room for this other thing?
Try this little test. The next time you go camping (no matter what your usual camping equipment load looks like) try doing it with half of the usual stuff. If you come home and realize that you didn’t miss anything, then you are on the right track. it is possible that you will wish you had brought something, but at least then you will know for sure what is important and what is not. Also, try “pre-packing” certain things into compact boxes or units. For example, create a box that holds the tent, the stakes, and the stake hammer all together. Then you won’t even have to think about whether you have everthing associated with your camping shelter, it is simply “in the tent box”. This could be duplicated for just about every aspect of camping including camp cooking, recreation toys, and pet supplies. This will make your camping and packing experience much simpler and more enjoyable. This in turn should lead to a more relaxing camping experience. Packing time should also be cut in half if not more.
Remember, “Simple camping is enjoyable camping” and “complex camping is likely going to be more stress than it is worth”.